Criminal Law

Larceny by Clerk or Servant

Larceny charges can fall into different categories. "Larceny by clerk or servant" (otherwise known as "Larceny by Servant") is the offence of theft or stealing by clerk or servant, and is often charged when it is alleged that an employee stole from their employer. This added factor of "clerk" or "servant" makes this more serious that the normal Larceny Charge.

The Law 

Pursuant to section 156 of the Crimes Act 1900, whosoever, being a clerk or servant, steals any property belonging to, or in the possession, or power of, his or her master, or employer, or any property into or for which it has been converted, or exchanged, has committed the offence.

To be guilty of this offence it must be proved that you: 

· wrongfully took and carried away

· the personal goods of another

· with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of such property

· without his or her consent

· and that you were a clerk or servant of the other.


The maximum penalty for larceny by clerk or servant varies depending on the value of the property stolen and in which Court the matter is finalised. For matters finalised in the Local Court: 

If the value of the property is $2,000 or less then the maximum penalty is 2 years' imprisonment, and/or a fine of $2,200.

If the value of the property is over $2,000 but equal to or less than $5,000 then the maximum penalty is 2 years' imprisonment, and/or a fine of $5,500.

If the value or the property is more than $5,000 then the maximum penalty is 2 years' imprisonment, and/or a fine of $11,000.

If the matter is finalised in the District Court then the maximum penalty is increased to 10 years' imprisonment.


A "clerk" or "servant" is a person under the control, and bound to obey the orders of, his or her "master" and can include a director of a company, an apprentice, an accountant, a person employed by more than one employer and also a person occasionally employed. The goods taken must belong to the offender’s "master" or employer. Because of the position of trust, larceny committed by such a person is considered a more serious offence than simple larceny and this is reflected by the increased maximum penalty.

Larceny by clerk or larceny by servant will not have taken place where the goods were only taken for some temporary purpose and not to permanently deprive the owner of the goods. You can also defend the charge if you honestly and genuinely believed that you were legally entitled to the property. 

The likely penalty for the offence will depend on your criminal record (if you have one), the value of the goods stolen, the amount of times that the offending took place, the period of offending and the amount of planning and deception. Although it is possible to be found guilty for this offence and not receive a criminal conviction, it is usually the least likely penalty, as the "breach of trust" involved makes the offending much more serious than a simple larceny.

If you have been charged with larceny by clerk or servant, our experts at Prime Lawyers - Criminal Law Division can help. Contact us to make an appointment with a criminal lawyer at your nearest Prime Lawyers office.

We have criminal lawyers with years of experience in larceny charges located at Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.

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